We shall open with a new story, the 150th anniversary of the discovery of the nugget which was held on February 5th 2019. Temporarily on display at the Dunolly Museum, on loan from the National Australia Bank Museum, were the scales were used to weigh the nugget.

Firstly,  pictures of the three people who organised this event, all members of the Goldfields Historical and Arts Society. The president John Tully, Rachel Buckley our secretary (sometimes our scary Queen Victoria) and Ken Duell a committee member with a long service with the local CFA.

headshot.
Rachel Buckley in formal attire, another valued local who gets things done.
John Tully and Ken Duell at the monument site… and yes, it is the right place. The bar Ken is leaning on is not a replica.

This event attracted international interest including this audio interview with John Tully and Suzie Deason by BBC Cornwall. We are grateful for the BBC’s enthusiastic support.

Some newspaper links (Don’t know how long these will remain active)

Bendigo Advertiser

Maryborough Advertiser

The Age (Melbourne)

BBC News (Cornwall)

Videos about the Welcome Stranger 150th celebrations.

A broach and a ring made from the nugget, 2.20

Re-enactment of the William Parker photographs, 6.20

Some general scenes in the vicinity of the monument, 3.00

A talk about Deason and Oates and the finding of the nugget, 40.20

A video by a very private person 7.00 This shows the reef, surfacing and what a puddler is. This is useful or people not aware of mining techniques and relics as spoken of in the following video.

A walk visiting relic sites adjacent the Welcome Stranger Monument, 14.00

Geological Survey of Victoria video of the 150th, 2.00

Images of the scales which were on loan for a short time to the museum from the National Australia Bank Museum.

 

The following contains historic pictures and various texts concerning the nugget.

Dear reader. If you encounter a reference to a picture of the Welcome Stranger, this means a photograph taken of Charles Webber’s sketch, the photographer was William Parker. There is no photograph of the nugget.

The following items are the only known primary sources regarding the Welcome Stranger nugget.

Dunolly & Bet Bet Shire Express February 12th 1869.

The Dunolly district after having turned over a multitude of nuggets that puts every other goldfield in the Colony in the shade has at length, in the words of the Melbourne journals “beat the world” in producing the largest mass of gold on record. The ‘Welcome Stranger’ was found by two men, named John Deason and Richard Oates, on Friday last, February 5, 1869, near the Black Reef, Bull-dog Gully, Moliagul, a short distance from Wayman’s Reef, and only about a mile from the celebrated Gypsy Diggings. Deason and his mate have been working in the ground for several years past, and as is well known, had got, in digging parlance, so ‘hard up’ as to have been refused credit for a bag of flour a week or so ago, and we believe the very day before the discovery, were reminded by a tradesman that they were indebted to him for a few shillings. Still they persevered, until on the day named, Deason in working round the roots of a tree, at about two inches below the surface, struck something hard with a pick, and exclaimed, “D—n it, I wish it was a nugget” and had broken the pick. On stooping down to examine the obstacle, he found that the object of his dearest wish was lying at his feet, and it seemed as if the monster was so large as to be immovable. It was, however, at length released from its virgin soil, and carefully removed. The question then arose as to what was to be done with it, and the first intention was to convey it to Melbourne. When the men got to Dunolly with their prize, they were advised to take it to the bank and forthwith carried it to the London Chartered. The news of the discovery soon spread, and the bank was crowded with eager spectators, amongst whom was a number of Chinamen; and a constable was sent for to guard the prize. The weight in the gross was then found to be two hundred and ten pounds troy, and preparations were at once made to break the mass to pieces and smelt it. The appearance of the ‘Welcome Stranger’ in its pristine state was something wonderful, and it seemed impossible to realise the fact so great a mass of gold could be collected in one lump. But so it was. Many efforts were made to lift it, and many exclamations of surprise expressed at its immense weight and compactness. A sledgehammer and cold chisels were brought into requisition and several of the latter broken in the attempt to reduce into fragments the ‘Welcome Stranger’. It was found to be as solid as it looked, and as chip after chip and piece after piece was dissevered from it, its appearance was as clean as a well-cut Cheshire cheese. At length, after no less than five hours hammering, the monster was pounded up and smelted, the result being 2268 oz. 10d wts. 14 grs. of solid gold, exclusive of at least a pound weight, which was given by the delighted finders to their numerous friends, who were each anxious to retain a piece of the largest mass of gold the world has yet seen. Over nine thousand pounds were advanced on the nugget by the bank, the final value awaiting the result of assay. Some interest has been manifested as to the comparative size and value of the ‘Welcome Stranger’ and the ‘Welcome’ nugget found at Ballarat, to set which at rest we give the following particulars: -‘Welcome Nugget found in the claim of the Red Hill Company, Bakery Hill, Ballarat, on the evening of the 9th June, 1858. Weight 2,217 oz. 16d wts’. It will thus be seen that the ‘Welcome Stranger’ whose total weight (inclusive of the pieces distributed, and retained as referred to below, before being smelted) was in round numbers 2,300 ounces, being over 80 ounces heavier than the ‘Welcome’. Henceforth the almanacs, which have hitherto chronicled the Ballarat monster nugget, as the largest piece of gold on record will have to change the name to the ‘Welcome Stranger’, found in the Dunolly district, near Moliagul. Several interesting incidents might be published in connection with the finding and finders of the nugget. Oates has, we believe, neither kith nor kin with whom to share his prize, but probably soon will have. Deason has a wife and family at Moliagul, where he holds 80 acres of land under the 42nd section, which we believe he intends to settle down upon and cultivate. Oates, we understand, intends shortly to visit his home at Lands End.

Since writing the above we have visited the locality to be henceforth rendered world wide in its fame. The spot where the nugget was found is marked by a post, and was pointed out to us by the two fortunate finders of this truly ‘Welcome Stranger’. Messrs. Deason and Oates inform us that they came to the colony in the year 1854. On the 19th February in that year they reached Bendigo, and from that time have been engaged as working miners, with the varied successes and difficulties appertaining to digger life. On the whole they have just managed to make a living by dint of hard work and thrift. About seven years ago they settled down at Moliagul, and have been steadily working there ever since chiefly, washing about nine inches to a foot of the surface soil in an old fashioned horse puddling machine. Mr Deason informed us that they had many times washed a whole week for half an ounce of gold, while at other times they were very fortunate. Within about a hundred yards from the spot where the ‘Welcome Stranger’ was unearthed they, some time ago, found two other nuggets, one weighing 108 ounces, and the other 36 ounces. They have stripped and washed the surface soil from several acres of land and their working are easily traced by the red clay they have bared. They informed us that this red clay contained a little gold, but not enough to pay, consequently they do not wash it. They pointed out to us a peculiar kind of red clay similar to half burnt brick, which they regard as indicative of gold, and which has always been found associated with their larger finds, and particularly so with the immense mass of gold found by them on Friday last. It is much to be regretted that this, the largest mass of gold ever found, at any rate of which there is any record, should have been melted before any model of it was made, and the fortunate owners expressed to us their regret that such had been the case. But when they discovered it the mass, as may be supposed, was unwieldy, so much so that it had to be forced from its bed by a large lever, and the place is a very solitary one, anything indeed but such a place as one would care to keep ₤10,000 worth of gold, or to risk making its discovery known until it could by surrounded by the necessary protection. The mass when found was taken to Mr Deason’s hut and placed in the fire for the purpose of rendering the quartz friable, and Deason sat up the whole of Friday night burning and reducing the mass into a somewhat manageable shape, and the debris containing it is estimated about a pound and a half weight of gold. This done, they took it to Dunolly, as previously stated, and it was at their request that the nugget was at once broken up and smelted. Some golden stone was also broken out of the Black Reef itself, specimens of, which are preserved. It is worthy of remark that at the time of our visit, Deason and his mate were working away in their shirtsleeves at the claim as if nothing had happened out of the ordinary. We are glad that the monster has fallen to the lot of such steady and industrious men.

Report to the Mines Minister.
By Francis Knox Orme February 12th 1869

Sir, I have the honour to report for your information that in company with the Mining Surveyor Couchman I proceeded yesterday to the ground where the large nugget was found and now named by the finders ‘The Welcome Stranger’. It weighed 210 lb gross and 2269 oz 10d wts 14 grains of smelted gold have been obtained from it irrespective of a number of pieces of gold and specimens which have been given away by the finders, and which they estimate, and I believe correctly, at one pound weight, and also irrespective of a considerable quantity of broken quartz mixed with gold which has been obtained from the nugget when breaking it into pieces for the purpose of carriage. The finders are named John Deason and Richard Oates, miners who have worked in this locality for about seven years and have a puddling machine there, and the nugget was found on Friday 5 February instant about one inch below the surface on the western side of a gully slope, going from the Black Reef down to a gully which is known as the Bulldog Gully or Black Lead. They estimate the size as about twenty-one inches in length and about ten inches in thickness but unfortunately broke the nugget in three parts before they informed anyone of it, and at their request it was for smelting purposes, at once broken into small pieces with a sledge hammer and chisels, when taken to the London Chartered Bank on the 9th instant.
The nugget was found in some surfacing (of which from ten inches to a foot is generally puddled) of loose, gravelly loam resting on thick, red clay, with a bottom of sandstone about ten inches from the surface.
A nugget of nine and a half-pound was found in the gully about ten years since, and also one of thirty-six ounces was found there by Deason on 8 June 1866, about one hundred yards from where the ‘Welcome Stranger’ was found. This is about two and a half miles from the south of Mount Moliagul – one and a quarter miles from the township of Moliagul – about a mile from the Gipsy Diggings and eight miles from Dunolly.
The precise locality in which it was found will be seen at once from the plan attached which has been made for the information of the Hon the Minister for Mines by Mr Mining-Surveyor Couchman, and in which the position is connected with the lands held under leases No 709 and 752, with the township of Moliagul and in which both the Bulldog and Black Reefs are shown. As soon as the exact weight of the balance of the gold obtained from the nugget and not in-cluded in the 2268-10-4 already mentioned has been ascertained, you shall be informed of it, and also of the amount of gold given in presents by the finders, so that a correct return of the whole actual weight nett of the nugget may be given.
It is greatly to he regretted that such a splendid nugget should have been broken up and that no photograph or drawing of it was taken, but I am glad to say that I confidently expect that a drawing of it from memory made with all possible care and fidelity will be made without delay and forwarded to you without delay.

F. Knox Orme, Warden.

John Deason’s 1905 account of the nugget discovery:

The following is John Deason’s account of the discovery of the Welcome Stranger gold nugget as signed by him (with his mark) in November 1905. (Udey should be Eudy)

It was between 9 and 10 am the fifth of February 1869. I was at work picking the surface for puddling and put the pick in the ground and felt what I thought was a stone. The second blow struck in the same way and the third time also. I scraped the ground with the pick and saw gold; then I cleared away further and right round the nugget. There was a stringy-bark root going right across it and a small bit of gold stood up and the root of the stringy bark ran through this. I tried to prise the nugget up with the pick but the handle broke. I then got a crowbar and raised the nugget to the surface. It weighed nearly three hundred weight. At first there was much quartz with the gold. As the nugget lay in the ground the solid piece of gold was underneath and it was deep in the ground but the top of the nugget was not more than an inch below the surface. The nugget was about 18 inches long by 16 inches wide and about 16 inches deep. My mate, Richard Oates, was working a short distance below the puddling machine in his paddock and I sent my son down to call him. When my mate came I said ‘what do you think of it Dick.  Is it worth 5000 pounds? ‘Oh’ he said, ‘more like 2000 pounds’. We then got the dray and lifted the nugget into it and carted it down to my hut, which stood about one and a half chains to the north of the old puddling machine. We took it out of the dray and put it in the fireplace, built a good fire on it and kept it burning for about 10 hours, leaving it to cool for 2 hours. We sat up all night breaking it free from the quartz. My wife, my mate and myself were the only people who saw the nugget as it was first found. When it was cold we broke 70 lbs of quartz away from it. Besides detached pieces of gold, there was one solid piece of it that weighed 128 lbs (troy). This was on the bottom of the nugget as it lay in the ground. There was a great deal of loose gold when the quartz was broken off. The 70 lbs of quartz broken away had coarse and fine gold through it. It was taken to Mr Edward Udey’s battery close by and a load of other quartz with no gold in it was crushed with it and 6 ozs of smelted gold obtained. Several small pieces of gold and quartz were broken off and given to friends after the burning. About 5 ozs of gold was given away and this has never been reckoned in with the weight of the nugget as sold to the bank. I have still a small piece of the gold, the only bit that is left*. The total weight of gold was over 200 lbs (troy). It was put in a calico bag and taken in Mr Udey’s spring cart to the London Bank, Dunolly. My mate, Mr Udey, and I went with it. The gold was smelted and yielded 2280 ozs of gold, over 23 carats fine. The bank paid us 9563 pounds for it.

* Note: This was shown to Mr E.J. Dunn, Director of the Geological Survey. It is a specimen of about 2 to 3 dwts of gold with grey quartz and is a little more than one inch long.

Text from Appendix F in “Gold Fields and Mineral Districts of Victoria” by R. Brough Smythe, F.G.S.

Attention has been already directed to the many large pieces of gold which have been found in the neighborhood of Dunolly; and, when the printing of this work was nearly completed, on the 5th February, 1869, there was unearthed by John Deason and Richard Oates a nugget weighing more than 2,280 ozs. 10 dwts. 14. grs. It was found on the extreme margin of a patch of auriferous alluvium trending from Bull-dog Reef. According to information furnished by Mr. Knox Orme, it appears that this mass of gold was lying within two feet of the bed-rock (sandstone), in a loose, gravelly loam, resting on stiff, red clay. It was barely covered with earth. It was about twenty-one inches in length and about ten inches in thickness; and, though mixed with quartz, the great body of it was solid gold.
It is to be regretted that a cast or a photograph was not made, and the weight and specific gravity of it ascertained when it was first dug out of the ground. The discoverers appear to have heated it in the fire in their hut, in order to get rid of the quartz, and thus to reduce its weight before conveying it to the bank at Dunolly. The melted gold obtained from it was 2,268 ozs. 10 dwts. 14 s. ; but a number of specimens and pieces of gold (weighing more than 1 lb.) were detached from it before it got into the hands of the bank manager ; and what was broken off in the hut whilst it was on the fire, it is useless to guess.
Mr. Birkmyre says : “ The gold of this nugget, from the crucible assays, I found to be 98.66 per cent. of pure gold. It thus contains only 1-75th of alloy, composed chiefly of silver and iron. The melted gold, with that given away to their friends by the fortunate finders, amounted to 2,280 ozs., or 2,248 ozs. of pure gold—its value at the Bank of England being £9,534.”
The neighborhood of Dunolly is almost unprospected country. For many miles there are out-cropping reefs which have yielded very large pieces of gold; and it is not at all improbable that other pieces of gold will be found as far exceeding the “Welcome Stranger” in weight and value as that nugget exceeds any yet recorded.
Near the spot where this mass was found there were unearthed two nuggets weighing respectively 114 ozs. and 36 ozs.
Very heavy gold is characteristic of this district; and large nuggets are found nearly every day.

Letter to the Argus from Ann Elizabeth Jesse.

(Mrs Jesse’s response to an article about nuggets in the Argus 22-12-1906. That letter was prompted by the Poseidon nugget discovery. The article she refers to did not have anything new so is not included here.)

Argus 26-12-1906
WELCOME STRANGER NUGGET – TO THE EDITOR OF THE ARGUS. – Sir, – In your interesting account in to-day’s issue of “The Argus” of “Famous Nuggets, Their History and Origin.” There is an error, which I wish you will kindly permit me to correct, viz, that the Welcome Stranger was taken by the fortunate discoverers, Messrs Deason and Oates, to the bank in Tarnagulla. This is a mistake, as it was taken to Dunolly and bought by the then manager of the London Bank, Mr. John Jesse, my husband, who has since died.
I remember very distinctly all the circumstances of its discovery and subsequent treatment. Your account is otherwise correct. I think; but I do not remember the exact weight, which, indeed, could not be ascertained until it had been cut up, as no scales could be found in the township strong enough to weigh either of the three pieces intact as they were brought to Dunolly. It took the clerks of the bank and the fortunate finders the whole day to cut it up in pieces sufficiently small to melt down, and produce fifteen large bars.
Messrs Deason and Oates generously gave £50 to the Anglican Church, and the same to the hospital, besides numerous nuggets to friends and others. I am now wearing a ring made of the one they presented to me. Yours & c, A. E. Jesse, Ballarat, Dec 22.

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Secondary documents.

The following items are stories handed down. These items are of interest, can have useful information, but are not first hand and often become distorted or enhanced.

In late 1887 Henry Glenny of Ballarat wrote a pamphlet that was a highly “enhanced” story of the Queen’s Birthday Mine at Goldsborough to make it attractive to English capitalists when the mine went sour. Part of his story is about the Welcome Stranger with the bulk demonstrably “inaccurate”. The part about obtaining chisels and hammers from a store across the road from the bank is of interest as it indicates the nugget was broken up at the bank because the store and the bank are known locations. This writer cannot see that even Henry would enhance his story to the extent that the tools were a creative invention.

The Welcome Stranger Nugget.
The Queen’s Birthday Reef, was now the absorbing subject of conversation all over the colonies – its yield of over a thousand ounces a fortnight was regularly telegraphed to each city in the Australias. An eager crowd at the Ballarat Corner or Mining Exchange on each alternate Saturday evening, awaited the writer’s wire of the number of ounces obtained, and when the result was much over the thousand, considerable excitement was occasioned, and a brisk demand for shares ensued. The writer was offered and refused ₤32 per share for 500 shares in one line.
The Birthday line of reef was considered of such importance by the government as to cause an official survey. It was proved by this, that the line of reef trends towards Mt Moliagul, a spot from which tons weight of the precious mental have been obtained, as well as a great number of large nuggets, chief of which was the “Welcome Stranger,” found by two miners named Oates and Deason, at the time of the find in very poor circumstances. The weight of this monster nugget was 2248 oz of pure gold, value in cash ₤9534.
The incidents attending the finding of this mass of precious metal are worth recording.
“Eureka,” – A Fortune In An Hour.
Oates and Deason had been working as mates for a considerable time, residing with their families near the side of Mt Moliagul. For a long time before they unearthed the “Welcome Stranger: they had had a weary spell of bad luck. The families of both men had lived on credit, as they were getting no gold, and had been told by the storekeeper, at Dunolly, that he, Mr B., could give no more goods without cash – he likewise suggested that both the men, who were really hard-working estimable fellows, should try their luck elsewhere. This they decided to do on the very day before the big find. On that day they took their picks and shovels out for the last time, to try and get a little gold in the shallow sinking on the face of the hill, in order to enable to shift their tents and belongings to a more likely spot. The man below had sunk only a few feet when the pick struck against very hard, and as he raised it to again descend, the point seemed gilt as if with shining brass. At first this passed un-noticed, one of them saying to the other that there was a big boulder on the bottom. After picking around it, they soon found out that the supposed boulder was a monster nugget of gold. It would be useless to try to describe the feelings of these lucky gold seekers. One moment almost pennyless, the next, worth nearly ₤10,000 of golden ore. They soon had the mass of gold and quartz out of the hole, and set to work to cut firewood in order to make a big pile and put their rich treasure on top, then setting fire to the wood, thus burn away all the debris. You may be sure there were no sleepy eyes that night in their little bush domiciles, but great was the rejoicing. Early next morning, having borrowed a horse and cart, they took the now purified golden lump, and spreading old sacks on the bottom of the cart placed in therein; covering the “Welcome Stranger” up with a further supply of old sack cloth, away they started for Dunolly, with lighter hearts than they had seen for many a long day.
Arrival At The London Chartered Bank.
It was early when they arrived opposite the London Chartered Bank, in fact before banking hours, so that Broadway, Dunolly, was but sparsely peopled, only a few stragglers about. While Oates knocked at the bank door, Deason kept guard on the cart, the knocking was answered by a servant who inquired his business.
“We want to see the manager,” says Oates.
“At breakfast,” says the maid.
“Tell him,” said Oates, “we want him at once.”
The bank official, Mr Puckle, J.P., fearing it might be bushrangers, soon made his appearance and demanded their business at this early hour.
“Want to sell a bit of gold,” says Deason.
“Well then, come back in bank hours,” says the angry manager.
“Can’t,” says Deason, “come and have a look.”
When the manager saw the lump of shining ore, he no longer hesitated as to the purchase. Soon they had it on the bank counter, and by this time the news began to spread, the bank was besieged with on-lookers, outside the door was like a fair, crowds of old and young gathered round the front, all anxious to have a look at the big nugget; the news was wired all over the colonies by press correspondents, as well as to the Government. Instructions soon came flashing across the wires, that a model was to be taken before the shape of the nugget was interfered with. In the meantime, the two fortunate miners insisted on having their prize weighed. The bank manager at his wits end declared he had no scales to weigh such an elephantine mass, and with that one of the men repaired to Mr D. B. Watson’s store opposite, procuring cold chisels and hammers, and soon had several big slices cut from the “Moliagul golden cheese.” The weight was after some time ascertained to be, as I have before stated, 2248 oz pure gold, valued at ₤9534.
Great Rejoicings.
Congratulations all round hailed the lucky finders, who for the time were the heroes of the hour. During the day crowds assembled round the bank. At the hotels the champagne flowed freely, the lucky Cornishmen shouting for all hands. Such was the excitement created that it was days before people stopped talking and dreaming of mountains of gold, valleys of bank notes, and cart loads of big nuggets.

Argus 16-12-1933 Page 6 Sat.
A New Story of the Finding of the World’s Largest Nugget –
By C. P. WARD

MANY stories have been written of the discovery at Moliagul in 1869 by Messrs Deason and Oates, two Cornish miners, of the worlds largest nugget, the Welcome Stranger. Some of the versions have been self contradictory and others have lacked essential details. A new and historically accurate account of the finding and sale of the great nugget is now supplied for the first time by Mr W C Ray of Empress road Surrey Hills. Mr Ray’s father Mr George Ray lived with his family on land adjoining the claim of Deason and Oates when they discovered the Welcome Stranger and his son is now the only man living who can supply all the facts associated with this romance of the Victorian goldfields.

This is Mr Ray’s story –
Although I have passed my 70th year the memories of my boyhood days at Moliagul are clear and they are supported by the evidence of my father who gave me first hand all the salient facts of the discovery and sale of the famous nugget. Early in February 1869 a dry month of an unusually dry year. John Deason and Richard Oates having come almost to the end of their slender financial resources were contemplating abandoning their claim at Bulldog Gully, Waymans Reef, Moliagul. They had been prospecting there for many months with varying but unsatisfactory results. Owing to the drought there was not sufficient water in the dam to supply the puddling machine to more than half its capacity and the partners decided to finish up by putting four loads of wash-dirt through for the day. John Deason began this work and it was arranged that Oates should go to a paddock some distance from the claim and thresh by flail a small stack of wheat to be ground into flour at the local mill. This flour was needed urgently to tide the small Deason family over the worst effects of the drought. Having put three loads of alluvial dirt through the puddler Deason began digging washdirt for the fourth load when his pick struck hard on what he thought was a rock or loose boulder a common experience on the claim. With a Cornish oath, since he thought only of the blunted point of the pick, Deason prised the rock from its inch or two of loose earth covering. He was amazed and overjoyed beyond expression as the massive beauty and purity of what is now known as the Welcome Stranger nugget were revealed.
Preserving the Secret.
Hastily replacing the rock in its setting -the reason for which will appear later – Deason hurried across to the house to tell his wife of the discovery. As I remember her, Mrs Deason was a lovely woman, one of the best of the wonderful mothers of those pioneering days. The two elder Deason children were soon sent with a message to Richard Oates who was asked to return from the paddock at once. He was amazed and elated at the discovery and he agreed with Deason that for the day at least it would be advisable to keep the matter secret. So the partners hovered about the claim on various pretexts until nightfall when the huge nugget was lifted and placed in the chimney fireplace of Deason’s house, where, screened and camouflaged it was carefully guarded by the prospectors while the necessary arrangements were made to have it broken up on the anvil in the blacksmith’s forge on the claim. This work was done with great care and secrecy, and the broken fragments of the beautiful nugget were packed in boxes ready for conveyance to the bank at Dunolly, some 10 miles distant.
The generally accepted reason for this hasty action on the part of the prospectors in at once destroying the nugget that its great bulk and weight would make it difficult to handle at the bank is only partly correct. Neither Deason nor Oates held a miner’s right for the claim containing the nugget, and Deason was afraid that the Government might step in and claim it as a product of Crown land, or at least that he might be involved in litigation which would greatly reduce the value of the discovery. That this was not an unreasonable fear was proved by the history of the Yandoit nugget, which was found by two elderly miners in some abandoned workings at Yandoit. Elated by their discovery, the men rushed off to Castlemaine and deposited the nugget in the bank there. When notified by the bank of the size and value of the nugget, the Mines Board immediately applied to the Court for an injunction, restraining the bank from smelting or selling the nugget and the prospectors, after months of litigation and payment of legal expenses, received only a few pounds each as their share of the 800 oz of gold the nugget contained.
Arrangements were quickly made for the safe transit of the Welcome Stranger gold to Dunolly. Packed carefully in boxes disguised as packages of farm produce, the gold was placed in the farm waggonette, and was conveyed by the partners to Dunolly. On arrival at the Bank of Victoria, in Broadway, Deason entered the bank to negotiate the sale, leaving Oates on guard with the vehicle outside.
Deason, who knew the manager well, asked, “What are you paying for gold now?”
“Oh about £4 an ounce,” the manager replied.
An ounce be blowed said Deason. What is it a hundredweight? To the astonishment of the bank officials. Oates brought in and placed on the counter the boxes containing the glittering fragments of the Welcome Stranger. After some unsuccessful efforts on the part of Deason to induce the manager of the Bank of Victoria to give a higher price an ounce than that first offered Deason remarked we can do better across the road and at once removed the boxes of gold to the London Chartered Bank on the opposite side of Broadway. The manager of the London Chartered Bank quick perhaps to realise the value and importance of such a sensational deal came nearer to Deason’s terms and ultimately he paid £9,553 for the 2,316 oz of pure gold which the broken up nugget yielded.

Which is True Story?
There Mr Ray’s story ends. I am indebted to Mr Harold Baker manager of the Dunolly branch of the Commercial Banking Co of Sydney for the official figures relating to the net weight of the Welcome Stranger and the purchase price paid by the London Chartered Bank. Mr Baker repeats the story still current in Dunolly that the nugget was brought to the bank in its natural state and being too large and heavy to be weighed on the bank scales was then taken to Mr Archibald Wall’s blacksmith shop in Broadway and there reduced to fragments. Mr Ray’s story is in direct conflict with this account and it is supported strongly by the probabilities and the evidence of his father. What almost certainly happened is that the largest fragment of the nugget in one of the boxes that containing most of the quartz was further reduced in size on Mr Wall’s anvil thus giving rise to the improbable story that the nugget was brought intact to Dunolly and was broken up in daylight in the townships main thoroughfare.
One of the most regrettable results of the premature destruction of the nugget is that no photograph of the Welcome Stranger in its natural state was ever obtained. The model in the Melbourne Museum and replicas in London and other Old World cities was made by a modeller from designs submitted by a draughtsman who admitted that he had not only never seen the nugget but was not even remotely associated with its history and discovery.
The site of the discovery of the Welcome Stranger has been marked by the erection of a stone obelisk. No nugget comparable in size and purity to this king of the alluvial goldfields has since rewarded the prospector, though the Poseidon nugget found at Tarnagulla awakened hope that it might some day be equaled if not eclipsed.

Argus 23-12-1933 Page 4 Sat.
Finding the Welcome Stranger Nugget
Finding the Welcome Stranger Nugget Discoverer’s Son Tells Story BY J J DEASON (Malvern East) writes – May I give my version of the discovery of the Welcome Stranger nugget as related to me by my father about four months before the discovery, in stoning the puddler, Mr Oates picked up a black stone, turned it over and threw on the heap, Father noticed the peculiar shape and picked it up to find that it was a 34 oz nugget with a black coating over it. On the day of the big find there were 2 oz of unsold gold in the house. As to the unearthing of The Welcome Stranger Mrs Ray is right about Mr Oates being engaged at the wheat stack. Father broke two pick handles in trying to raise the nugget. Then he went home and told mother and brought the crowbar back to lift it. The nugget was put in the fireplace to burn the quartz and was then broken up. The large piece 1281b was the one taken to the blacksmith’s shop at Dunolly to be cut and it was almost free from quartz. So that refutes Mr Bakers version of its being taken to Dunolly intact. As regards the holding of miners rights I know nothing about that. An error of Mr Rays was that the nugget was taken in the farm waggonette. The puddlers dray carried it. I think that father super-intended the making of the last model. In the latter part of 1906.

The Rev Joseph C Booth (Dunolly) writes -I do not think that the account is quite correct regarding the cutting up of the nugget into pieces before its removal to Dunolly. There is at present in the Dunolly Hospital a patient named Mrs Davis, who is a daughter of Mr Deason, one of the discoverers of the nugget and who found it. Mrs Davis is confined to her bed but she is ready to discuss with any visitor the details of her father’s great discovery. Her information is very reliable. She says that only little pieces were broken off at the Deasons’ home and that the nugget, practically whole was taken to Dunolly, where it was broken up upon Archie Walls’s forge. Mr Archibald Walls, the son of the original Archie Walls is living at Dunolly and though 83 years of age, he still swings the hammer. He informs me that he well remembers the great nugget being brought to his fathers forge which stood just near the site of his present forge to be broken up. He is certain that the Welcome Stranger nugget was carried into his fathers shop practically whole.

Mr E. V. Monotti (Bendigo) writes – It is stated that the Welcome Stranger nugget was cut into pieces by the discoverers. That may be correct but the article also states that no photograph of the famous piece of gold in its natural state was taken, and that the models of it are mere guesswork. I have a picture that appeared in The Argus on September 9, 1926. The heading is as follows – Discovery of Famous Nugget. It shows a group of people -men, women, and children- taken in the bush with the nugget in the foreground. The following is the title – An incident of historic interest is Illustrated by the reproduction of a photograph taken at Moliagul in 1869 it shows the finders of the Welcome Stranger nugget posed with pick and crowbar beside the mass of gold which weighed 210lb and realised £9,437. On the left is John Denson. Mrs Deason is seated behind the nugget, and Richard Oates on the right. (Mr Monotti did not realise the photo was a reenactment using a rock.)